Irish Examiner view: Let's not lose our heads over Covid frustrations

Ireland's slow vaccine rollout has led to some wild suggestions among politicians
Irish Examiner view: Let's not lose our heads over Covid frustrations

British prime minister Boris Johnson.

Stressed societies can consider unconventional responses to whatever crisis unsettles them. Archaeologists tell us ancient societies believed human sacrifice might be a down payment on a good harvest or, maybe, bring a drought to an end.

Though QAnon conspiracy theorists hint that human sacrifice is part and parcel of the lifestyle of America’s liberal leaders, that idea has yet to win purchase in any rational mind. 

Whether QAnon champion Donald Trump was serious when he offered bleach or UV light as a foil to Covid-19 hardly seems questionable, though he quickly retreated when his diagnosis provoked a barrage of ridicule. 

Sri Lanka’s health minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi endured such a bombardment when she endorsed a syrup concocted by a sorcerer. 

The potion’s creator said he got the formula through divine powers, claiming the Hindu goddess Kali appeared in a dream and gave him the recipe so he might save humanity from coronavirus.

There was a suggestion at a Kerry County Council meeting on Monday that, unless taken with a good pinch of Atlantic sea salt, might be imagined as advice from — if this is not an oxymoron — the QAnon health spokesperson or, at a stretch, the goddess Kali. 

Independent Killarney councillor Donal Grady suggested our vaccine rollout was so slow that British prime minister Boris Johnson be asked to run the country for six months. 

“We could do with Boris Johnson,” he said. Tralee councillor Sam Locke was supportive and said:

Boris Johnson must be doing something right.

These interventions seemed particularly brave in a constituency that, for much of the last two decades, returned a convicted gunrunner to the Dáil. 

Even in a council chamber almost inured to the most colourful interventions, this seems a new Rubicon.

Grady and Locke may be, just as the rest of the country, comforted by the fact that one of the 37 vaccination centres announced on Monday will be in Killarney. 

They may, however, be unhappy that Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he was hopeful that, as supplies increase, some 250,000 people will be vaccinated each week. The councillors want them to be delivered at a far faster rate, even though more vaccines are at the moment unavailable.

Those dependent on tourism in Kerry, the county’s mainstay, must be disheartened by this kind of grandstanding as plans to reopen the economy suggest the hospitality sector may only start to reopen on an outdoor basis in May.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are improbable until a significant proportion of the population has been vaccinated. 

Cautiously optimistic

Government sources are cautiously optimistic unless the goddess Kali decrees otherwise, that will be achieved by September.

As everyone is increasingly frustrated, unless they have the detachment of a Trappist monk, with pandemic limitations it may be unfair to underline the councillors’ Tory envy but one fact might encourage them to be more patient. 

The anti-science hubris shown by Trump, Wanniarachchi, and Johnson has a commonality. By ignoring the rules, all three contracted the wretched virus which hardly makes any of them enviable, inspiring leaders. Steady lads.

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